Youth-Specific Vulnerabilities

katy-fentress-dove-and-speaker (via flickrCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In post-conflict areas, opportunities for education and employment are often limited. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness, particularly for the younger population. For many youth and children around the world, being homeless is a result of conflict, making them extremely vulnerable. As a result, they may be stigmatised, chased, or beaten, either randomly or in a targeted way. It is also important to understand that conflict affects boys and girls differently.

Youth: The concept of youth can be understood as a period of transition from childhood (associated with schooling and dependence upon others) to adulthood (associated with working and providing for others – especially family members). Although youth should be considered a fluid category rather than an age-fixed group, ICT4COP has (for the purpose of methodological transparency) decided to operate with a youth category encompassing all people from age 15-30.

 

Enduring poverty and lack of economic prospects also leave youth vulnerable to taking up criminal activities as a livelihood strategy. When the social fabric of society is broken down due to conflict, youth are more easily recruited into criminal groups and drug trafficking. In addition to providing an income, membership in organized crime groups can provide protection and safety, as well as an important sense of belonging and identity. Youth may also cope with their situation by migrating, and/or by using drugs, which may lead to further insecurities. The following Digital story provides illustrating examples:

 

Another coping strategy may be radicalization. Rather than assuming radicalization to be solely a result of religious extremism, it can also come from socio-economic disparities and political marginalization.

In 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted a historic resolution on youth, peace and security. The resolution is an important legal framework, recognizing the impact conflicts have on the lives of young people, the need to prevent the negative effects of conflict on young people and the active involvement of young people in shaping lasting peace, justice and reconciliation.The resolution may be used to raise awareness of the vulnerability of youth in post-conflict situations, as well as their important role in peace and reconciliation. Read more about the UNSC Resolution 2250 here.

Promising practices of working with youth

In Afghanistan, Police-e-Mardumi (COP) councils in police districts have regular meetings with youth to discuss the challenges they face. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working with different youth programs, co-operate with the police to help build good relations by involving them in their activities. For example, through their scout programs the NGO PARSA provides an alternative for youth who are in danger of falling into extremism. NGOs also work closely with COP councils.

In Pakistan, Police Liaison Councils (PLCs) established in 10 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province interact with youth once a month. An important arena for interaction is through sports and games. These interactions allow both police and youth to take up their worries and concerns. However, it is a challenge to include girls in these councils due to cultural reasons.

In Kosovo, an Education Information Management System has been introduced to improve the systematic handling – and prevention – of school violence. The system provides a protocol for identifying and clarifying duties, roles and procedures for prevention, data collection and reporting of violence against children in school. Read more about our youth-specific work package.